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The Takeaway: Season opening ups and downs

Thumbs up for goalie goals and historic wins; thumbs down for Northeastern stumbles and live stat snafus

Ohio State Buckeyes v Wisconsin Badgers Photo by Justin Berl/NCAA Photos/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

With another NCAA Division I season upon us, we’re back with the latest edition of The Takeaway to catch you up on the latest happenings!

5 Things to Know

Corinne Schroeder scores the first women’s goaltender goal in NCAA history: Topping off the list of history-making moments to start the NCAA season is this goalie goal from Quinnipiac’s Corinne Schroeder. It’s the first time a women’s goaltender has ever scored in NCAA play, and Schroeder is just the 13th goaltender to score in an NCAA game.

Ohio State cruises to a 4-0 start: Even with so many new faces featuring on their roster, the Buckeyes are already cruising to start the year. They took care of business against St. Thomas on opening weekend, winning by a combined score of 10-1. This past weekend, they went on the road to sweep Minnesota, winning 4-2 and 4-3. So far, there’s no doubting they’re a top-two team in the conference—likely the NCAA as well.

On paper, we knew coming into the year that the Buckeyes had done enough to replace the likes of Emma Maltais and Tatum Skaggs, but it has to feel good that they’re gelling so quickly. They brought in eight transfers this offseason, many of whom played major roles on their previous teams. So far, there haven’t been any issues clicking. Ohio State veterans Sophie Jaques, Jennifer Gardiner, and Jenna Buglioni are leading the way and the newcomers are adjusting nicely around them. The fresh start with the Buckeyes is treating former Bemidji State forward Clair DeGeorge particularly well; she has five points in four games so far and a game-winning goal against Minnesota.

Northeastern falters out of the gate: The Huskies, on the other hand, are struggling to find their groove so far—not what many expected after their trip to last year’s national championship game. They won their opening series against Holy Cross by a combined score of 11-0, so all seemed well at first. It quickly came apart at the seams this past weekend. First Northeastern dropped a 2-1 decision to Boston University, and then they visited Providence and were completely shut out by the Friars, losing 3-0.

It’s the first time since February 2018 that the Huskies have lost two straight games, so while it’s not time to panic just yet, it’s clear they have some work to do to get back on the right track. Top forward Alina Müller is still out after suffering an injury at the Women’s World Championship in August; she’s an irreplaceable player to be sure, but Northeastern should have had enough firepower to match Providence offensively, especially after losing to a Hockey East rival the night before.

Prior to last weekend, I would have favored Northeastern to get back to the national championship game; I’m not so sure anymore. It’s well off the performances we’ve come to expect from this team. They’ve retained basically their entire core group, so there’s no reason to think they can’t get back into form, but so far this season, it’s a noted difference.

They’ll have a good chance to rebound this evening in a weeknight tilt against Saint Anselm, and then it’s right back to Hockey East action on Saturday against Maine.

St. Thomas picks up their first Division I win: Congrats to the Tommies’ coaches and players for winning their first-ever Division I women’s hockey game against Bemidji State. The Tommies didn’t have to wait very long for it, either; they picked up the win in their first home series, in their fourth game of the year.

They defeated the Beavers, 2-1, in comeback fashion on Saturday afternoon. Maija Almich tied it up for St. Thomas in the second period, and Luci Bianchi scored the go-ahead goal with less than seven minutes left in the game. Saskia Maurer, who played for Switzerland at the most recent World Championship in August, had a really solid game in net with 28 saves.

While the Tommies are not going to be competing for the WCHA crown this season, they’ve had an encouraging start to their first Division I season so far. They’ve already picked up a win and shown some improvements in the second game of both of their series. And their goaltending looks very capable of handling high shot volumes and keeping games relatively within reach.

With College Hockey Stats closing up shop, college statistics and live scores just got murkier: Tim Danehy, who ran the website College Hockey Stats and built live stats and stat keeping as we know it in college hockey, announced this offseason he’d be officially stepping away. Many of us relied on his work to check out-of-town game scores from the press box and keep up to date with detailed player stats. His contributions to the college game—both men’s and women’s—are to be celebrated, but the outlook for stats and scores in his absence, at least currently? Much less so.

Brad Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald wrote an excellent feature on Tim and what’s next for stat keeping, live scores, and more. The NCAA is moving to a new platform, NCAA Live Stats powered by Genius Sports, for stat keeping. While in the long run it’ll hopefully be better (and that’s a high bar to clear with the work Tim has done), the current environment is definitely not there yet.

There are still tons of kinks to work out with live scores, and we’re losing access on the front end to valuable player data—and the ability to filter it. To be clear, the men’s side is experiencing the very same issues; but with fewer folks covering the game on the women’s side, especially full-time, I worry about the ripple effects this will have on our side of the sport. At least for the time being, it’s gotten harder, not easier, for fans to follow along with the sport, and for part-time media (full disclosure: like myself) to grab the context we need to give you quality coverage. Here’s to hoping we’ll take two steps forward soon after one step back, and not the other way around.

Don’t Miss It

Upcoming games to watch for:

Quinnipiac vs. Providence, home-and-home, Friday, Oct. 15, and Saturday, Oct. 16: Following Providence’s win against Northeastern and Quinnipiac’s close call against Saint Anselm last weekend, this is now one of the most intriguing non-conference matchups on the schedule. Both teams have NCAA postseason hopes, and the outcome of this series could help sway the odds significantly. This is a good chance for Quinnipiac to show they belong among the nation’s best and just as good a chance for Providence to show last weekend’s win was no fluke.

St. Lawrence vs. Clarkson, home-and-home, Friday, Oct. 15, and Saturday, Oct. 16: The Golden Knights have turned in a decent season so far but haven’t quite find their groove; there’s nothing like a good old rivalry series to ignite a spark. The ECAC race is going to be tight again this year, and I expect that to be reflected in this series.

Ohio State at Wisconsin, Saturday, Oct. 23, and Sunday, Oct. 24: We still have one weekend of games before we get to this series, but it’s shaping up to be a #1 vs #2 matchup in Madison. The Badgers and Buckeyes have both taken care of business so far, and we’ll get to see two high-powered offenses clash in this matchup. It’s way too early to start thinking about this, I know, but Ohio State loves making trouble for Wisconsin; there’s a not-insignificant part of my brain wondering if we’ll have a new number one come that Monday.